Russian investigators have recognized three sisters accused of murdering their abusive father as victims in the criminal case against their father, lawyers said Tuesday, a move that activists called a “breakthrough” in their case.
Krestina, Angelina and Maria Khachaturyan admitted to killing their father in July 2018 after he subjected them to years of physical, mental and sexual abuse. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against their deceased father Mikhail Khachaturyan on charges of sexual assault, coercion into sexual acts and torture earlier this month.
Alexei Parshin, one of the Khachaturyan sisters’ lawyers, told The Moscow Times he hopes the development will lead to their charges being dropped.
If their father is found guilty, “this is more proof that they were assaulted repeatedly over several years and their lives and safety were endangered,” Parshin said.
“The investigation already established that they sustained serious bodily harm; this points us to the state of necessary self-defense that they were in. If they were in a state of necessary self-defense, they can’t be found guilty and the case against them should be dropped,” he added.
Feminist activist Daria Serenko called the Investigative Committee decision a “very important breakthrough” for the sisters’ case in a Tuesday tweet.
The sisters’ other lawyer Yaroslav Pakulin told the Open Media news website that the sisters’ trial won’t start until their father’s trial has ended, meaning they will likely remain under house arrest for months or even years.
Investigators previously refused lawyers’ requests to downgrade the charges of premeditated murder, which carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years, to necessary defense charges.
The Khachaturyan sisters’ case has sharply divided Russian society, with supporters blaming Russia’s lack of protection for domestic abuse victims for forcing the teenagers to defend themselves and opponents viewing them as murderers.
Chechnya Detains Kidnapped Gay Men’s Relatives
Chechen authorities have detained dozens of relatives of two gay men who were forcibly returned to the southern Russian region to face terrorism charges, a rights group told the independent Dozhd broadcaster Wednesday.
The Moscow-based LGBT Network rights group said Salekh Magamadov, 20, and Ismail Isayev, 18, fled Chechnya last year but were arrested and returned in February on accusations of aiding an illegal armed group. The brothers face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the charges that rights activists call fabricated.
The LGBT Network told Dozhd that 20 of Magamadov and Isayev’s relatives were held in an unknown location for two hours Tuesday as police sought the whereabouts of the men’s parents.
Magamadov and Isayev’s parents fled the republic of Chechnya after police forced their father to waive his right to counsel, Dozhd reported.
The men’s mother Zara Magamadova had filmed an appeal to Russia’s human rights commissioner last week seeking her sons’ release and accusing the authorities of “fabricating” the legal case against them.
“I’m asking anyone who can help, please help me see my sons alive and in good health,” she said.
Magamadov and Isayev’s 20 relatives were released overnight, according to the Caucasus Knot news website.
Europe’s top human rights court ordered Russia last month to grant relatives, lawyers and doctors access to Isayev and Magamadov.
The LGBT Network said authorities accused the men of operating a social media channel critical of government officials and tortured them in 2020 because of their sexual orientation.
Chechnya’s strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has faced years of media investigations into the imprisonment and torture of homosexuals in secret prisons, has claimed that his region is exclusively heterosexual.